We'll keep pushing transformation, says St Anne's after Mandela Foundation pulls out

The Nelson Mandela Foundation accused St Anne's of breaching a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation accused St Anne's of breaching a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions.
Image: Supplied, used with permission from St Anne's

Top KwaZulu-Natal Midlands school St Anne’s Diocesan College has accepted the withdrawal of the Nelson Mandela Foundation from the transformation process it co-designed.

The foundation became involved after a group of former pupils in June compiled a 6,000-word public document alleging institutionalised racism at the private school and talked about “harsh” experiences to which the pupils of colour had been subjected over the years.

In a letter dated November 25, the foundation’s CEO Sello Hatang said: “It is with great regret that I must inform you that the Nelson Mandela Foundation has decided to withdraw from the transformation process which our two institutions co-designed for your school.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the school's board chair Kari Greene said: “Our transformation journey as a school continues. The Nelson Mandela Foundation, with whom the school partnered on this journey, has withdrawn its participation in the past week.”

Greene said St Anne’s remained committed to its transformation and diversity agenda with respect to admissions, appointments and, most importantly, its  “conversations that expand our commitment to embracing our connection in our St Anne’s family”.

“We thank the NMF for its role in our journey and it is in good faith that we seek a deeper understanding between both parties. We will build on what has been done thus far, and we look forward to further momentum with the transformation process,” Greene said.

Hatang says in the letter it took several months to agree on terms of engagement and to finally sign the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the school.

“For the foundation it constitutes both the mandate and the warrant for the work we committed to doing with you. It is not something which should be signed, put in a filing cabinet and forgotten about,” Hatang said.

He accused the school of breaching the MOU.

“I am sure you will appreciate the impossible position the foundation is put in when its team members attend joint operations committee (JOC) meetings and are simply informed about decisions which have been taken and processes which have been initiated.

“What this communicates to us is that we are being co-opted into an agenda that we don’t have any meaningful say on, and that the work we bring to the process is merely window dressing,” he said in his letter.

He accused the school of ignoring a carefully negotiated and workshopped four-phase transformation process.



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